USAMU FAQs: Shooting Positions

Civilian Marksmanship ProgramEducationShooting Tips from the USAMU Service Rifle TeamUSAMU FAQs: Shooting Positions


The U. S. Army Service Rifle Team and the CMP have teamed up to provide our First Shot readers with an opportunity to submit their questions on highpower/service rifle shooting and get answers from some of the greatest shooters and coaches in the country.

If you have questions about shooting positions, send them to and a USAMU shooter or coach will answer it here.


Q: Gentlemen, I am a casual pistol, rifle and shotgun shooter and hunter and am intrigued when I see competitive M-16-format rifle firing positions showing the rear stock in little contact with the human form. Typical instruction for rendering traditional, accurate rifle fire includes snugging the rifle butt deep into the formed shoulder pocket for stability. I also posses a civilian version of this rifle.

I must assume that this “pocketing” is unnecessary with the light-recoiling 5.56 ammo and this circumstance has yielded a newer, more effective position for that rifle format. What gives?

Curious Tom

P.S. Is there a particularly good book you might recommend for the casual marksman in improving their skill?

A: Mr. Clark, The purpose of placing the M16 / AR-15 rifle butt so high in the shoulder is to keep one’s head as erect as possible. This practice would be ideal with other calibers as well, but is normally not utilized with the heavier recoiling rifles such as the M1A.

When you place the rifle into the “pocket” of your shoulder, one normally has to lean their head over onto the stock. This causes balancing problems and you will sometimes get the feeling of falling forward. By standing more erect, and keeping your head upright you should not have the feeling of falling forward. Furthermore, your hold, or wobble area tends to be much smaller.

SFC Kyle Ward

Q: I am having a consistent problem with shooting over the black while standing. I am very unsteady at this point but am finally beginning to narrow down my aiming area. My progress has been slow and is now being hindered tremendously by this problem. As I break a shot, most of the time it will hit very high in the 8-5 ring, sometimes further up than that. I would bet my life I am well inside the black as the shot breaks, and appear to be after firing as well. I’ve tried a lot of experimentation but can’t seem to isolate the problem. I would say over 85% of shots are hitting at least two rings higher than I am calling them. I also have a tendency to blink as gun goes off, but this doesn’t seem to cause a problem in prone or while shooting from a bench. Any help would be greatly appreciated, as I’m really getting frustrated.

A: Sir, Without being able to actually watch you during the act of firing, any answer given is merely speculation. Here are a couple of suggestions:

1. Your problem is possibly caused by an error in sight alignment.
Though the front sight is correct in relation to the target, the relationship between the front and rear sight may be off. Try moving your head farther away from the rear sight. This will cause the rear sight to appear smaller and make achieving sight alignment easier.

2. Another possible cause of your problem may be anticipating the shot. The fact that you blink when the rifle fires may be an indication that you are going into recoil prior to the actual shot. Dry-firing will help you increase your follow through and overcome this problem.

SFC Lance Dement

Q: Dear USAMU, when shooting from a tree stand, what adjustments need to be made due to shooting down at an animal? Joseph W.

A: Mr. Wages, Given the distance that most hunters take deer from, no adjustment in aiming with a highpower rifle is required. Slope angle adjustment typically comes into play past 300 yards and angles of 30 degrees or more.

But, if you do not fall into the category of most hunters, when shooting over long distances from an elevated position the target is not as far away as it appears. Think of it like this, you need to know the range to the target as if it were on an equal plane with you (eye level). The easiest thing to do is to pick an object that is near your target, and on the same plane as you. Get a reading to that object, and you will have the actual distance to your target. Remember, this really only comes into play if you are shooting in excess of 300 yards.

SFC Kyle Ward

Q: Thanks for the marksmanship tips from AMU. I had to retire from the Army last year, but still enjoy highpower. After I passed 60, my offhand scores dropped. This year at Perry shooting standing in a 10-15 gusting wind was a challenge for me, but some shooters had good scores so it is doable. Can you give up some tips for dealing with gusting winds in Offhand? Rick

A: Dear Sir, The key to shooting good scores in the wind is aggression and trigger control. The position will deteriorate, even for the best shooters, it is therefore necessary to become more aggressive when moving the trigger.

Obviously, reaction time plays a role in this, but you should practice in the wind and try different techniques. The change in approach is as much mental as it is physical. Some shooters will make a decision to accept shots “in the black” in these situations. This may help in releasing the shot quickly. The number one mistake is to over-hold. The rifle will not stop moving, and over-holding will only lead to breaking a shot “behind the trigger”, or outside of call.

Good Luck and Good Shooting

Q: I have looked on the CMP website for this question and answer but did not see it so maybe it is not redundant. What is one of the major reasons for vertical stringing in rapid fire (both sitting and prone)?

A: Mr. Stoll,

I will preface my remarks by saying that it is impossible to accurately diagnose a shooter’s problems without closely observing them fire their rifle repeatedly to see what they are consistently doing wrong. It has been our experience that there are three major contributing factors to someone vertically misplacing shots outside of their group:

1. Most often a shooter experiencing this type of problem is shifting their focus off of the front sight and transitioning it to the target.  You may have heard this problem referred to as looking over, or beyond the front sight. The shooter believes that they are pointing an “X”, but in reality they have no idea where the rifle is pointed in relation to the target.

2. The other problem we see most frequently is in the position itself.  I had this problem myself earlier in the year during the 300 rapid fire stage. My coach, SSG Emil Praslick, observed that I was slightly steering the rifle with my non-firing arm/hand.

3. Finally, especially in the sitting position, we have observed people who have a large amount of movement due to pulse.

The first two problems are easily corrected. Ensure that you are intently focused on the front sight each and every shot. Also, make sure the sight picture you use, whether it is 6 o’ clock, center of mass, or something else, allows you to obtain the same sight picture for every shot. You must be able to point the rifle in the same place every time you squeeze the trigger.

Make sure you are not using muscles instead of bone support to point the rifle. As I previously mentioned, I also had this problem. My problem was solved with a simple adjustment to my sling. I am now letting my sling do the work for me instead of my non-firing arm. Get into position, aim at the target, and then relax. If you are not still on target, you may be muscling the gun. Adjust your natural point of aim, and relax again. Continue this process until you can relax, and the rifle remains oriented onto the target. Do not be surprised if you have to loosen or tighten your sling.

Pulse can be a more difficult problem to overcome. Pulse can come from various places, and one must spend a lot of time in position to pinpoint the source. Most often, it comes from multiple places and you will find that you have to make small adjustments in more than one area to completely correct the issue. I recall answering another shooter’s question in the past regarding pulse problems in the sitting position specifically. It is a rather lengthy answer, so I will ask that you search for my answer to that gentleman’s question and review its contents. If you are unable to find the answer, reply back to me and I will be glad to answer it again. Hope this helps out.

Good shooting,
SFC Kyle Ward

Q: I have had a right knee replaced. I only have 90 degrees of flex. The sitting position I’ve always used is now impossible. Do you have information on the “new” cross legged sitting position? I have already downloaded your cross ankle position.  Thank you for your time and trouble. Richard W. Sharpshooter

A: Richard, Based on your recent surgery, I think your only option is going to be the open leg sitting position. I realize that this is not the most stable position, but if you tense your whole body just a bit for the entire string of fire, I think you should be able to do O.K. If it makes you feel any better, there has been at least one national champion that shoots open legged in the recent past.

Good Luck,
Lance S. Hopper

Q: Dear USAMU, I’m 55 years old, and very inflexible. I find the sitting position very uncomfortable, and so almost never shoot well in it. Any advice for the very inflexible? Thanks, Jim

A: Jim, For the very inflexible you have but one option, and that is the crossed ankle position. If you are right handed you will cross your ankles left over right and extend them out from your butt. You should be able to sit a little more upright and hopefully be a little more comfortable in this position.

Good Luck,
Lance S. Hopper

Q: Hello, I shoot CMP Sporter Rifle so I have to use a factory stock, no adjustable cheek rests or drop butt plates. I have a problem in that I am very long-waisted, when sitting on the floor I have the upper body from the waist up of a 6’2″ person, however my legs are very short with an inseam being on 29 inches. This makes for a very tall upper body to get down on knees that are too short for my upper body height. I am also 50 years old and not as thin through the midsection as I used to be when I was 30….can you offer any help ??

Thank you for addressing my problem, currently the Boer position is the only one that offers promise. Dwight Pilkilton

Q: I read the crossed legged article. It all makes sense. I have a problem getting into position. I have a long torso and short legs and arms and it is very difficult to get into the position where my elbows can “rest” anywhere near my knees… do I solve that? Robert W. Smith

A: Dwight & Robert, Yours is not an uncommon problem. The easy answer is that I hope you are inflexible enough to get into a good crossed ankle position. You will know if you are too flexible because your knees will fall to the ground. What I would try to do if you must shoot cross legged, is to scoot your butt as close to your legs as you can and slide your feet away from each other to get them as much underneath your knees as possible. This will get your knees higher of the ground and hopefully make it easier for you to get your elbows into the pocket of your knees. I hope this gives you a good place to start.

Good Luck,
Lance S. Hopper

Q: I would appreciate your sharing what left hand (non-firing hand) position(s) are used in offhand shooting by USAMU shooters. Do you have any recommendations for how the non-firing hand should support the AR15 rifle? Also, can you advise whether you advocate holding on the bullseye in offhand or using an approach? If you use an approach, how do you approach the target?

Thank you for answering my questions, B. T.

A: You have asked a very good question, but one that is difficult to answer without any pictures. The first thing you have to realize is that the purpose of the non-firing hand is to raise the rifle to a point where it gives you a natural point of aim. The acid test for whether or not your hand position is good is if you can hold the rifle on target for an extended period of time, 2-3 minutes, without taking the rifle out of your shoulder and not experiencing any muscle tremors in your non firing hand, arm, and shoulder. To achieve this goal there are many different hand positions that are widely used and accepted. I personally use a five fingered glove in an oversized mitt. I shoot off the fist just in front of the slip ring with my index and middle finger split around the magazine well. This allows me to get the rifle up high enough that I don’t have to help the rifle stay on target. Another way is to support the rifle by the bottom of the magazine. This position will give the shooter the maximum amount of elevation possible. If you are not concerned with getting the rifle higher, some shooters successfully hold the rifle at the slip ring between the thumb and forefinger, either with the hand facing the magazine well or away from it. These are a few hand positions that I know work well for the individuals that use them. The key point to remember is that it must fit your body type or shooting style. So, the only correct hand position is the one that works for you.

As for the type of hold we use, these are also varied. We on the team use a line of white, 6 o’clock, center mass, and something between center mass and the top of the bull. Again, for those who use them they are successful. What works for someone else may not work for you. I think I speak for most of the team though when I say that we all strive to have a hold that is as still as possible and break as smooth a shot as possible. In high winds we will modify that some to shooting the shot on the way into the 10 ring. This requires more of a command detonation type trigger control, but in the wind you do what must be done. I hope this adequately answers your question.

Good Luck,
Lance S. Hopper

Q: Is it legal to place the magazine in the palm of the non shooting hand? Thanks, Bill Norris

A: Mr. Norris, Yes, it is legal to hold the magazine in the non-firing hand while in the off-hand position.

SFC Kyle Ward

Q: Dear Sir, I’m having difficulty preventing my sitting rapid fire groups from drifting from the center off in a cone from 9:00 to 6:30 O’clock. Please see the attached photograph of a 100 yd target which typifies the problem. You can see that each string has 3 or 4 x’s and then drifts off to the 10 and 9 rings (fortunately, running out of ammo before reaching the 8!). Of course, this is usually fired at 200 yd. There, if I can prevent this drifting, 15 to 17 x’s are not unusual. Can you identify what I am doing wrong? Can you offer a solution?
Thank you! Michael Costello

A: Mike, My first question is: Are you left handed? The tendency if your position breaks down is for the rifle to cant away from your body. As the rifle cants, your impacts will start to drift left and down, causing the kind of groups you have shown us. If you are right handed, I think there is the possibility that your forward hand is slipping during the string of fire. In either case, I would question whether or not you have your sling tight enough. If your hand is slipping, I would suggest using some kind of spray adhesive to stop this from happening. If all else fails, I suggest you fall back on some sage advice I received from Grant Singley–don’t pull the trigger unless it looks like an X. I hope this helps and good shooting.

Good Luck,
SFC Lance S. Hopper

Q: Dear Sirs, I’m new to Service Rifle competition. I’ve used a six o’clock hold on pretty much any sight picture involving a post front sight. I was viewing the “Mind of Matter” video on Service rifle competition, off-hand techniques and it seemed to me that the sight picture that the shooter was using is the center hold. Is that correct? Do you use center hold in off-hand? All stages? I always thought that there was an alignment issue with a front post sight and center hold. Perhaps this is an urban legend of sorts. Your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated, Bob Winding

A: Mr. Winding, Several competitive Service Rifle shooters use different holds each and every day. I personally use a center mass hold for slow fire and 6 o’clock rapid fire. I know of others that do the same thing. What you use really depends on what you are able to see and repeat. If you think that you can see 6 o’clock better than center mass, use 6 o’clock. Some like to use line-of-white, and there is nothing wrong with that either.

I recommend (seriously) that you experiment with different holds when dry firing to see which one you like the best. Then, when you go to practice, try them again to get zeroes for each. When you get to a day or a range where you can’t see 6 o’clock very well, put your zero on for center mass and shoot center mass. You must be versatile, flexible, and prepared to use whatever you have to use to be successful. I hope this gives you some ideas.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: SFC Anderson, My offhand hold/position is very good for elevation as indicated on a SCATT trainer, but I have a problem with side to side swing. The swing is enough for me to throw 8’s either side on a regular basis. I’m at 93-94 on a good day so I would like to find a remedy for this. I’ve had suggestions to try a slightly wider stance or change feet angle but am wondering if you have any suggestions for me to try.
David France

A: Mr. France, The suggestions that you mentioned are valid. Side to side sway is generally caused by lack of muscle tension in the legs. While you want your position to be relaxed, some tension is necessary to simply stand still. There is one more thing I would like you to check…..ensure that your jacket is buckled all the way down, and tight around the waist and midsection. I would even recommend that you buckle and tighten your jacket from the bottom up. This secures the jacket around your hips, which is where the movement in your legs is translated into your upper body. If that doesn’t fix your situation, then move to your feet.

You could try a wider stance, but remember that if you go too wide, you will lose stability, same if your feet are too close together. Somewhere close to shoulder width is usually what works well for most. Try pointing your toes slightly towards each other. This should tighten the backs of your legs and help eliminate the sway. If a little doesn’t do the trick, try a little more. You may find that this will change your natural point of aim, so be ready to orient yourself to the target again. I recommend that you do all of this experimentation while dry firing. Remember to take good notes of lessons learned so that you are ready when you get out to practice. These techniques will hopefully allow you to be successful.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: What is the proper grip function of the shooting hand? Should the grip stay at the minimum force required to ensure consistent trigger operation, “along for the ride” if you will? Or should the grip actively guide the rifle, pulling it into the shoulder? Should the grip change for different positions, rapids vs. slow fire?
Sincerely, Chris Primavera

A: Mr. Primavera, The grip tension of the firing hand is important because it acts as an anchor for the trigger finger. Since shooting is a conscious and deliberate act performed by a person manipulating a piece of equipment, control must be maintained of this piece of equipment. The grip tension allows us to maintain this control. The tension required has been compared to the grip of a father’s hand holding his child’s hand as they cross a street. You don’t want it so tight that it hurts the child, however, you surely don’t want to let go!! Hopefully this helps to give you an idea of the tension that we recommend holding with your firing hand.

There will be days that require more tension and days that require less tension from your firing hand. Windy days might necessitate you pulling the rifle into your shoulder a little more than usual. Calm days may necessitate less, but tension in your hand somewhere around what I mentioned earlier is what you will find that you use the most.

I would say no, the grip tension shouldn’t change between rapid and slow fire, but again you might find a situation that requires you to increase or decrease tension just a little. Try to keep it consistent as possible even from position to position in an effort to eliminate possible problems. Also remember that a “death grip” will cause your firing hand and forearm to fatigue which will only lead to more problems.

Keep your firing hand high with a firm grip on the pistol grip and allow your finger to fall naturally on the trigger. Your finger should fall on the trigger so as to allow for smooth trigger manipulation straight to the rear. The tension of you firing hand is correct when this can be maintained. I hope this answers your question.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: I have a question regarding highpower offhand technique. I have been struggling with my offhand shooting the past two years. This year I have made some major progress on my vertical (elevation) grouping, be that I am able to keep most of my shots in the 10 ring vertically, but my horizontal (windage) hold is 6 ring to 6 ring. I feel rock solid with my vertical hold, it is my horizontal (windage) hold that I am having a hard time with. I am stringing my shots left and right of the 10 ring, with the occasional shot landing inside. When I am in position my sights are swaying left and right, and I feel like I have to break the shot as my post races beneath the black dot. I have worked on my form with some veteran highpower shooters and instructors only to dial in my vertical hold, and my horizontal hold hasn’t improved at all.

I am tall, at 6′ 4″, and maybe that has something to do with it. I use a Creedmoor Jacket that I cinch it down as tight as I can, especially at the waist area and try to lean back until the jacket stops my movement.

My rifle is an AR and my support hand, left hand, is half turned so that my palm is facing to the left when placed under the magazine. I also try to keep my head as level as possible to prevent any balance issues, to avoid swaying. Nothing is working right now and I feel as if I am going to have to rebuild my form from the ground up to fix this problem.

I am shooting 150’s in 200yd offhand, 180’s 200yd sitting rapid, cleaning my 300yd prone rapids, and around 180’s in 600yd prone, depending on the wind.
All my positions have been improving except for my offhand, which is maybe 5 points better since I started shooting HP.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Jon

A: Mr. Beagle, You are not the first person to experience a problem standing. It sounds as though a few simple fixes may do the trick for you. Let’s start at your feet. Of course, we start with our feet about shoulder width apart. If your natural point of aim calls for them either being closer together or farther apart, so be it. What I want you to do, is instead of pointing your toes straight ahead, try pointing them just so slightly towards each other. This will tighten the backs of your legs, and hopefully eliminate some of your swaying. Try more if a little doesn’t work. This may necessitate you having to open or close your position to the target. All this means is that you will be oblique to the target instead of perpendicular to it, and this is fine. You must keep close track of all the changes that you make, and see if you can determine if any or all changes created any stability. Once you have determined the successful changes, TAKE COPIOUS NOTES and start getting into the routine of acquiring this new position. Standing can be an animal if your position does not allow for success, hopefully these little changes are all it takes for you to see improvement.

Q: Tell me what percentage of successful shooters use the 6 o-clock hold, center mass, flat tire, Navy, etc. My eyes are now 55 years old and I am struggling to get out of the 600’s in 80 rnd NRA matches, need a breakthrough, and I’m looking at the “hold”………..Thanks for all your help!

A: Mr. Moats, What makes a successful shooter is not the hold itself, but the shooter’s ability to repeat it for every shot. With that said, what will make you successful is what YOU can see and repeat for every shot. A lot, not all, but a lot of shooters actually change holds between positions or at different yard lines. For example, I shoot using a center mass hold for standing, using a 6 o’clock hold for rapid fire, and then go back to center for slow prone. I think that this helps me to keep from staring at them too long slow fire, and allows me to get a more refined point of aim for rapid fire.

Understand that there are days for all of us that vision is extremely poor, just because of conditions. On those days, you just have to do some math, move your zero and hold on whatever you can see. I have seen (done) hold offs on the number boards and even other targets. Mother Nature is not always concerned with how good your sight picture is, so you have to be ready to adapt to what you can see.

When changing sight pictures, make sure that you keep track of zero changes for each hold. This way, when you get to the range and figure out that you can’t see 6 o’clock today, you already have a zero for center mass!! This process can be frustrating and will take some getting used to, but we all have to do whatever we can to give ourselves the best chance at being successful.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: In the prone position with an AR-15 service rifle: Is the sling supported hand placed against the sling swivel (like a handstop)? Or is the hand more naturally placed back on the handguard? What do you recommend? Thanks.

A: The hand on the handguard of an AR-15 is in essence an adjustable handstop. If you are able (not many are) to place your hand all the way out to the handstop, and still have enough elevation in your natural point of aim, then put it there. The old shooters that moved over from the M-14’s realized quickly that they were not able to put their hand all the way out like they could with the old 14’s. Most shooters have to ‘choke up” on the AR type rifles.

In a nutshell, if your arms are long enough to allow you to do that, go for it. Most people can’t, and that is not wrong either. Most people change forward hand positions to accommodate for differences in ranges and target to firing line orientation. It is also a way to adjust your Natural Point of Aim.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: How do you teach shooter consistency in their position? Thank you, Jason Moeller

A: Mr. Moeller,

Consistency in a shooter’s position isn’t taught, it’s created. You create your own consistency by focusing on the parts of the position. For example, think about your firing hand wrapped around the pistol grip. If you grab the pistol grip with the same grip tension, and keep your hand high on the pistol grip, you will find that your trigger finger starts to fall naturally and consistently on the trigger.
Analyze each part of every position and make notes about them. Start from the non-firing hand and work your way back to the butt plate or go from the butt plate out to your non firing hand. This will form a checklist in your mind and help to create the consistency that you seek.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: Good Morning, Thank you for taking the time to help me out. I have been shooting for many years and have always shot the offhand position with my left arm and hand unsupported. I want to change my stance and shoot with my left arm tucked into my body (I am a right-handed shooter), but I’m not quite sure how to do it. Can you give my some advice?

Thank you for the help, and thank you for your service to our country.


A: Walt,
Having your left arm against your body is the best way to use bone rather than muscular support in your standing position. You should not have to modify your position much other than bringing the left arm in to your body and finding a good hand position. Get your gear of the truck and set it up in front of your TV in the living room. Try different hand and arm positions. It is easier to figure out a position in the comfort of your air conditioned home rather than standing on Easley Range on a 99 degree day! It may take you some time to get it right. If you start using a certain position and it quits working, don’t be afraid to change it. Make notes in your data book about your findings.

Good shooting,
SFC Grant Singley

Q: Dear Sirs: While shooting, particularly in the sitting position, pulse is a problem. How can I control pulse? Thank You for your time,  David

Q: Hi, I read in the CMP online journal that you are taking questions – Thanks for agreeing to do this.

My particular problem is that pulse beat is wrecking things for me in the 200 RF stage. My position is low and solid; however, pulse beat sure has been a problem lately. In the past I have typically shot 196 or so in this stage.

This pulse beat thing has just popped up lately, so something has changed. I am going to try to not let my left calf muscle touch the right leg, and I may experiment with sling tension. Another thing is maybe I am just too hyped up & need to calm down some.

Has this ever been a problem with you or the AMU shooters and how was it solved?

Good luck & we’ll see you in the Regional Tournament in Oak Ridge in June.

Mike Glasman, Knoxville, TN

A: Mr. Prest/Mr. Glasman,

Pulse is something that I had a lot of trouble with at one time, but was eventually able to work it out of my sitting position. After spending about one year and countless hours hooked up to a laser system that showed my every move while I was in the sitting position, I obtained the following results:

1. You may get a pulse beat from your legs. I shoot the cross-legged style position. I found that if my heels were digging into the outside of shins, I would get a little bounce from that area. I corrected this problem by moving my heels more underneath my knees. Try to imagine the sitting position as you’re reading this. I’m a right handed shooter so my left heel is under my right knee.

2. You may get a pulse beat from your abdomen. If you are a heavy set guy with a little something extra around the mid-section, sitting is going to be tough for you. The only thing I can recommend if you are of this build is to undo your belt and top button of your pants prior to shooting. I am a thin guy and do this anyway. I believe it helps on those really hot days when your heart rate is up. If you are afraid that your pants are going to fall down, wear suspenders. Another alternative would be to switch to crossed ankle style position.

3. Finally, you may get a pulse beat from your sling. Your sling should be positioned fairly high up on your non-firing arm. I use the top of the pad on my shooting jacket as my reference point for the placement of my sling. I also do not put my sling on the outside, or back of my arm. I tend to place my sling toward the inside of my position and do not tighten so that it has a tourniquet type of effect. I snug the sling down, but am able to still slide a finger or two between my sling keepers and arm.

SFC Kyle Ward

Q: What methods are there for getting the spotting scope set up to its correct height & angles for sitting and especially prone, within the short time available in the prep period?

Do people mark the scope tube & stand in some way?


A: Doug, There are no real set techniques, however try getting it set up at home while dry-firing so it’s how you like it, and then try it like that again at the range. You could try marking your stand for a quick reference. Understand that little changes are always going to be necessary, but the scope in relation to your position should always be relatively close.

Good shooting,

SFC Norman Anderson

Q: Because of my physical build I have an A1 buttstock on my AR. When I shoot offhand I rest the upper barrel guard just forward of the receiver in the palm of my hand with the palm facing fingers to the left or turned back, my thumb is on the right side of the barrel fingers on left. In this position I cannot get the butt of the rifle fully into my shoulder and can only catch a small portion of the heal on the very top of my coat.

This position is stable for me but I’m concerned that it is not legal as I have to hold the shooting hand close to my chest.

Question: What do other short of stature shooters do in offhand? Is there another way for me to try offhand that will allow a stable platform? Offhand is my work hard position.


Michael G. Strikmiller, REM

A: Mr. Strikmiller, Your position is legal and defined under rule 5.12 in the NRA Highpower rulebook. The rifle may rest on top of the shoulder, however discharging a firearm while resting on top of the shoulder may result in personal injury. Your second issue about your hand touching your chest was a big deal a few years ago. Your firing hand may touch but not rest on the shooting coat.

As for the techniques of other shooter whom are short of stature, they are probably the same as all other great shooters…..sight alignment and trigger control.

A technique that will help you is to approach a shot standing similar to a shot rapid fire. You must execute your shot quickly as the position is unstable and the rifle doesn’t stop for very long.

Lastly, continue to dry-fire and keep good notes regarding position refinements and lessons learned. You are ultimately your own best coach.

Good shooting,
SFC Norman Anderson

Q: Hi, I have only been shooting service rifle matches for a year and my off-hand is horrible. Beside a lot of snapping in what is the best or some ways I can improve my standing?

Thanks, Van R. Texas

A: Van, It seems as though everyone is looking for an answer for standing. You are correct in thinking that dry-firing will help you to get better. What I would like to emphasize is dry-firing just like you would be shooting. What this means is: take notes and go through the same processes you would if you were shooting a match. The key to shooting standing well is consistency. You must do everything the same each and every time.

Consistency in your shot to shot routine will allow you to focus on sight alignment and trigger control. Without a routine, steps in your process are skipped which results in your concentration to wander during the shot.

Moral of the story is to develop a foolproof routine, keep detailed and positive notes about lessons learned. You will improve over time and with practice.

Good Shooting,

SFC Norman Anderson

Q: I get severe nerve pain in the palm of my hand in prone after half a dozen rounds. How do I determine the cause?

What is the interaction of the brachial nerve in the upper arm and how can I experiment with sling position, angle & tightness in relation to the nerve?

Could it be the lead weight in the handguard putting too much weight on a nerve in the palm?

Could it be the sling pressing on a nerve in the side of my wrist?

I have trouble with it pressing against the bone on the side of my
wrist- I injured the connective tissue at that location while fighting the steering wheel in a car crash, and there are a few specific angles of movement where, with a little weight in my hand, my wrist is weak & I get a shooting pain.


A: Doug, I tend to believe that your problem is mostly due to your injury. Most shooters experience their non firing hand falling asleep while in position, maybe even to the point of numbness. In order to determine how you can change or alter your position in an effort to eliminate the pain, I would recommend demonstrating your position and discussing your situation with a doctor.

Good Shooting,

SFC Norman Anderson

Q: Got a question for anyone – I was having problems in prone, getting my support arm under the gun. After playing with my Garand, I found a good position. But due to the mag on the 14, it is difficult to do. Now the sling is hitting the mag. I am slung up fairly tight so there is pressure on the magazine, which I fear will mess with a good follow through. I am using a Tam sling, and will go back to my web, as it is much thinner and may give more clearance.

My question- do you think the sling on the magazine will screw up the follow thru, and my shot?
Thanks, Chuck Dickerson

A: Mr. Dickerson, If you think about what follow through is…nothing more than the continuation of the fundamentals until recoil has ceased…the sling against the magazine should have no effect on your follow through nor your shot placement. I believe that it will however affect the recoil pattern of the rifle while in position and perhaps how long your sling will remain tight.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norman Anderson

Q: Hi, Thanks for the opportunity to ask the best shooters in the country a question. I just this week received my high-master classification but it has been a long hard struggle. I seem to have been born without a natural point of aim. When I shoot standing it is a real struggle for me to stay in the black. I usually do the closed eyes, shoulder the gun and open eyes every shot to stay centered. I have dry fired and live fired but 92 to 94% is about as good as it gets. Any suggestions?
Thanks,  Allen

A: Allen, When you say that you were born without a natural point of aim, I am assuming that you are having difficulty finding it. Your technique sounds correct, but once you open your eyes, does the rifle move to the center, or is it already there? If it moves to the center, it is not your true natural point of aim. If it is already pointed there, your problem lies elsewhere.

If the rifle is moving towards the center (or desired aiming area) after you open your eyes, try to locate the muscle groups that are moving the rifle, and make adjustments so that those muscles are relaxed. Here is why that is important: Once you commit to the trigger, your body goes into a instant state of relaxation as your mind concentrates on the trigger. The lack of muscle tension for that instant causes the rifle to move to your true natural point of aim, and thusly not where you wanted it to be.

If the rifle is already pointed at the desired aiming area when you open your eyes, make sure that you are staying focused on the front sight and not the target. If you are looking at the target instead of the front sight post, you will find yourself not only outside of call, but usually nowhere close to the center. Remember to keep your focus on the front sight post.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norman Anderson